On the weekend of October 8 some of the amazing women and men who work hard to make Natural Parents Network the wonderful community and resource that it is got together for a meet-up at two locations across the U.S. — the Midwest and the Northwest. This was the first time that many of the volunteers have met in person after a year of collaborating on this amazing website. Please scroll to the bottom of this post for a list of links so that you can read what some of the other volunteers had to say about this incredible First Annual Natural Parents Network Team Get-Together!
Last Sunday, I met up with a group of lovely families, all bloggers and volunteers at the Natural Parents Network. Our gathering was one of two happening that weekend, the second of which was out in the midwest at the home of Dionna of Code Name Mama. What fun to meet a bunch of other bloggers I’ve mostly known and interacted with online! We even had a group video chat with the other group and other volunteers who didn’t make it to the meetups — how geeky (but fun) is that! Thanks so much to Moorea of MamaLady and her sweet family for hosting and for her part in the delicious spread of good eats — it was perfect, and I had a lot of fun!
I ended up going solo — without the kiddies — though I was so torn up until the moment I left for the meetup! I knew everyone else was bringing their kids, but goodness it’s so hard to socialize with my three around! I hate having to choose between taking my kids or having a meaningful conversation with other adults, but for the moment, at least in settings like this, that’s the reality. Ah well.
I will leave you with a fabulous recipe I tried just for this event. Since there were various allergies within the group, I challenged myself to find a desert that was dairy, gluten and almond-free (and was easy enough to make the day of the event with pantry ingredients, since I’m a baking procrastinator!). I love shortbread and have successfully made various dairy-free shortbread recipes that include either whole wheat pastry flour or almond meal (both which I couldn’t use this time). With a little hunting I discovered this lovely hazenut vanilla shortbread recipe (origionally from Martha Stewart Living), which I altered slightly and doubled, and it turned out great! Give it a whirl — of course you could sub the hazelnut meal with almond meal, the flour with wheat flour, and the margarine & oil with butter, if you’d rather. But its pretty amazing just as it is! Sorry I don’t have a pretty photo, you’ll have to take my word for it….
Hazelnut Vanilla Shortbread
(gluten & dairy free)
8 tablespoons (1/2 cup) softened shortening of your choice (I used 6T of Earths Balance margarine, 2T coconut oil)
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped, pod reserved for another use
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup brown rice flour (I actually used Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free flour mix)
3 ounces/1 cup blanched hazelnuts, finely ground (I used Bob’s Red Mill Hazelnut Meal)
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
I also added 1-2 Tablespoons of boxed coconut milk, because I felt like my dough was a tad too dry. The original recipe didn’t call for this, YMMV!
1: Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment, leaving a 2-inch overhang on 2 sides (if you’re doubling the recipe, a 9×12 baking pan works great).
2: Cream margarine, (softened) coconut oil, vanilla seeds, and sugar with a mixer until fluffy. Reduce speed to low; add flour, hazelnuts, and salt.
3: Press into pan; freeze until firm, about 30 minutes. While shortbread is chilling, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Score shortbread into pieces sized as you choose; bake until gold, 40-55 minutes. Let cool in pan for at least 15 minutes. Either cut in pan and then remove for further cooling, or remove from pan, allow to cool on a wire rack, and then cut (I rushed it and it fell apart some — going to try cutting in the pan next time for sure!).
Enjoy! If you try this recipe, let me know how it turns out for you, and if you made some successful substitutions!
To learn more about all the members of the Natural Parents Network team, visit our about page. To become a volunteer for NPN, first please check out what we’re in need of, then contact us if you’re interested in helping out. Here’s information about some of our lovely volunteers, including all of those who are writing about the gathering today:
Northwest Gathering Attendees:
Arpita at Up, Down & Natural writes Me And My Ladies ~ First Annual NPN Team Gathering. Also find Arpita on Twitter and Facebook.
Midwest Gathering Attendees:
Amy at Peace 4 Parents writes The Value of Parent-to-Parent Support, Truth, Love, and Healing. Also find Amy on Twitter and Facebook.
Mandy at Living Peacefully with Children.
Fabulous NPN Volunteers who were unable to attend: